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High School Team Preview:
Moorpark High School--(Oct. 19, 1998)

Tim Bednar is the head coach at Moorpark High School, which this year will play in the recently reconfigured Marmonte League of Southern Section of CIF along with teams like Thousand Oaks, Simi, Newbury Park, Royal, and Westlake.  Tim is a pretty young guy to have so much responsibility. He attended Loyola Marymount here in Los Angeles, and tried to walk on to the basketball team, "but then I realized I wasn't good enough, so I decided to get into coaching."   After getting his degree at LMU, Tim went to Thousand Oaks High where he was the frosh-soph coach for a few years, and then he moved over to Moorpark in 1988.  He's married, and he and his wife have four children.  One of his sons, Daniel, is currently an 8th grade student at Moorpark, and stands 6'-2" and weighs 200 pounds.   Daniel plays with the ARC Razorbacks, an AAU club traveling team which this summer finished second in the AAU Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee, winning seven games to make it to the finals, only to lose to the Southern California All-Stars, who wound up as the 14-U National Champions.  Suffice it to say, we're pretty well convinced that next year Daniel will be making a big impression on the Moorpark varsity and on their opponents.  

Last season Moorpark played in the Frontier League with teams like Calabasas, Malibu, Nordhoff, Santa Clara, and Santa Paula, all smaller schools, but this year, the leagues have been reconfigured, and some schools in the Channel League, the Tri-Valley League and the Marmonte League have been moved to accommodate the creation of a new league.  So Moorpark was shifted over to the Marmonte League.  Last season, Moorpark made it to the second round of Southern Section II-A playoffs, where in the first round they defeated Culver City 57-47, and then in the second round they faced Pacifica. The game was tied going into the final 17 seconds, when Pacifica's Adam Rachlin hit a shot with only seven seconds remaining to give Pacifica the lead. But seven seconds was enough to give Moorpark's Keith Donahue, who graduated last year, enough time to drive the length of the court where he managed to draw the foul, sending him to the line for what seemed like two points and the overtime period. But then Donohue missed both his free throws, and with one second left, point guard Sean Corkery also had another chance to save it, getting the rebound, but missing the tip-in on an off balance shot.  So Moorpark's season ended with Pacifica winning 69-67.   Like Artesia in Division I-AA, we can hear Bednar saying "but for a single shot here, a foul call there, a missed or a made free-throw, who knows. . ."

But that was last year, ancient history; this is now, a whole new season, and a seemingly brand-new team. Here's the tentative roster, again recognizing that this is early, and there still could be some additions to the roster, in alphabetical order:

Chris Bucka (6'-2" Jr. G)
Sean Corkery (6'-0" Sr. PG/SG)
Peter Dalrymple (6'-6" Jr. C)
Matt Daniells (6'-6" Sr. F)
Marc Gressman (6'-0" Sr. F)
B.J. Hunter (6'-2" Sr. G)
Jeff Illions (6'-1" Jr. F)
Ryan Moser (6'-1" Jr. G)
Josh Perkovich (6'-1" Sr. G)
Jared Tavasolian (5'-8" Jr. PG)
Todd Tomlinson (6'-0" Jr. SG/PG)
Justin Tolliver (6'-1" Sr. SF/SG)
Joe Tormos (6'-4" So. F)

This team starts with Sean and Todd in the backcourt, and they are both tremendously talented, hard-working guys, who are determined to constantly improve their games. "Sean and Todd have both done the things that players need to do to get better and improve. They both do their 500 shots a day; they've played in leagues and club teams, and they've gotten private coaching.  Both of them have improved greatly and continue to get better," Tim told us today. "I think that most of our offense will run through these two guys, and as a result, while there may turn out to be some other big scorers, most of the time, others will be setting picks and screens for these two."  Of the two, Corkery is a senior, and somewhat of a late bloomer in the sense that last year he didn't attend any of the camps so a lot of college coaches didn't get to see him, but based on what we've seen, we'd say he's definitely D-I material. He's got a great handle, good court vision, and a quick first step with which he can beat all but the quickest defenders. He will drive and penetrate and either dish with great accuracy or pull up for the J or take it to the hole pretty fearlessly, in part a result of some of the individual workouts he's been doing with Robert Ichart, who also coached Sean's ARC team this summer in several tournaments like the Slam-N-Jam NIT and the Long Beach Fall Hoops Classic. Sean is probably best suited to playing the one, but he's also a great scorer, and in that fateful final game last season in the playoffs against Pacifica, he scored 32 points to lead all scoring. Sean has also been tearing it up in the ARC fall league, and right now, we'd have to say he's very under-recruited, and well worth taking a look at by a D-I program.  Todd, on the other hand, will not lack for exposure, and he's just a junior, but his game has also improved tremendously.  Todd is a strong, athletic player, smart, and he's deadly accurate from near or beyond the arc; yesterday for example in the ARC fall league, he buried 24 points, almost all from the right side of the court near or beyond the three point line. He's also a capable ball-handler, who can drive or penetrate, and he'll also push the break.  Both Sean and Todd are capable defenders, with good lateral quickness and good hands, and Tim is probably making the correct decision to have most of the offense go through them this season. 

Backing up and vying for time at the guard spots this season will be Chris Bucka, Brian (B.J.) Hunter, Ryan Moser, Josh Perkovich and Jared Tavasolian. Taking them in reverse order, Jared will probably see the most time at the point; he's up from the jv this year, and is a toughnosed, tenacious player with a great handle; his only drawback is size in that he may have difficulty passing over or around bigger defenders, but that won't bother him as he's quick, has excellent passing ability and makes good decisions generally. This will be his seasoning year at the varsity level, and we'd look for him and Todd next season to run the backcourt.  Perkovich is a returning varsity player from last season; he's got a decent  handle, plays capable defense, and has a nice drive to the basket with decent short range shooting.  Look for Ryan to backup and get some minutes at the shooting guard spot; he's an excellent catch-and-shoot type of player, who can spot up in the perimeter, and he's also got a decent handle and can run the break and passes well. Bucka is also an athletic player, also up from the jv, and he's an excellent outside shooter as well, and we'd expect to see him get some time during the right situations.

In the frontcourt, at the forward spots, Matt Daniells will be a big key to the season. He's a returning varsity player, who at this moment may be a starter depending upon his consistency.  He's a tough defender and a good rebounder with decent leaping ability, and he can score from close range, and he's even developed some decent post moves, but will need to develop a more consistent game.   Marc Gressman is the starting quarterback of Moorpark's varsity football team, so depending upon how they do, he won't join the team until later.  Marc is only 6'-0", but is listed as a forward, and we questioned that, but Tim insists he's a real wide-body kid who's talents would best be used rebounding and clogging up the middle. "He's a smart player who plays very tough on defense," said Tim, and we'd expect to see him laying some picks and setting screens just like a footballer will do. "And he can throw, so he'll be key on the transition after getting rebounds."  At the wing forward spot we'd look to see Jeff Illions, who is a slashing type of rebounder, who is really more comfortable on the perimeter shooting the ball from outside, but he's still a very physical player and will do what it takes to finish.  Also at the three, we'd look for Justin Tolliver, whose strength is rebounding and running the floor on offense. Justin is a baseball player really, and hasn't devoted much time to basketball lately, but Tim thinks he just may be the most athletic player overall on the team. 

We would also expect to see either at the three, four or five spot Joe Tormos, a young promising left-handed sophomore who Tim thinks has true D-I potential. Right now he's a bit skinny, but he can run very well, rebound effectively and with his extremely long arms can and will be an effective shot blocker and rebounder.  He also has nice form on his jumper, and can hit it out to the perimeter.  Joe also runs cross-country and track, and while he may not put on much weight with this form of cross-training, he's still pretty effective inside our outside, and best of all, he'll still be around for another three years. Finally, at center, we'd look for Peter, a big 6'-6" kid who can rebound fairly effectively at the post, and who is fairly mobile and will put back the garbage. We saw him recently and the nice thing about him is his tenacity and second, third, and fourth efforts that he displays.

Moorpark will be appearing in several pre-season tournaments this year. First they'll be at the Channel Islands Tournament, from December 8 through 11, an 8 team tournament which will also feature some of their former league opponents in the Channel League.  Then from December 15-22, they'll be playing in the La Canada Tournament, which is a 16 team tournament frequently held in conjunction with the Bell-Jeff Tournament, with teams shuttling back and forth between the two venues, one week being devoted to mostly varsity teams, and one week being devoted to jv teams (we assume that the 15th-22nd will be the varsity week). Finally Moorpark will play in the Chaminade Tournament held at Chaminade High School from December 26-31, which has expanded to 16 teams this year.

This is a young team, which is being thrown into a very tough league, and which is going to have lots of competition just to make playoffs this year. Whether they've got enough to get past Simi, Newbury Park or whoever else will challenge, will determine whether Moorpark returns to the Division II-A Southern Section playoffs. We're betting they will, and you can also bet we'll be watching. Stay tuned.

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